How to Collect Baseball Cards: A Few Thoughts for Coping With the Downturn

3/5/09Follow @bbuderi

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valuations. To maximize the value of what you have to offer, understand the needs of your partners and customers. They (perhaps invoking Rule 2) will willingly pay more than “fair market” value if what you’re providing fills an important gap for them. And they won’t think you’re ripping them off, either.

6) Only Trade Doubles — Never trade a card that you only have one of. I violated this rule once, receiving 23 cards (all ones I didn’t have) for one single Willie Mays. Even though on paper they outstripped the value of Willie, this was a calamity. All these cards were relatively easy and cheap to collect from other sources, but Willie was rare and extremely hard to replace. I spent a lot of angst and effort to restore the Say Hey Kid to my collection. And I’ve got to be honest with you, I’ve got no great direct business lesson to share here, except for maybe reinforcing Rule 1—and to emphasize that one “hole” can also be greater than the sum of a bunch of other holes.

7) Be Patient -– When I was collecting, Topps issued seven sets of cards in a season. They would release them one at a time, and often the rarest cards would be held back until the last set. If you didn’t stay in it for the long haul, you couldn’t complete the set—yet by the time the seventh set came out many kids had tired of the season, or were spending their money on something else. Especially in today’s business climate, you have to do everything you can to plan for and stay in it for the long haul. Your investors, partners, and customers are all likely to be more cautious than usual and slower to act, or you may just feel desperate to do something and enter into a deal or make some other move that really isn’t a good fit with your business or strategy. But if you can keep at it and stick to plan when others lose patience or courage, you stand a much better chance of completing your “set” and creating something of great and lasting value.

Bob is Xconomy's founder and editor in chief. You can e-mail him at bbuderi@xconomy.com, call him at 617.500.5926. Follow @bbuderi

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  • Mike Wolff

    very clever, Bob–reminded me of my great business blunder: selling the entire set of prior-generation cards (1940s) to my 6th-grade buddy for $0.50! In retrospect a clue that I would not be an entrepreneur! Best regards, Mike

  • Pete De Spain

    Brilliant!

  • Pete De Spain

    It’s not often I read a relevant industry piece that also brings back a rush of childhood memories – even rarer still to read an article regarding the downturn that puts a smile on my face!

  • Bruce Wirt

    Very well said “Baseball Card” Bob

  • Tom Henderson

    No wonder I could never beat Bob in our fantasy baseball games. He held all the cards.

  • http://www.staenberg.com jon staenberg

    Great stuff…with a collection of 40,000 sports ticket stubs we should compare notes sometime!

  • http://community.cardboardconnection.com/ Mike

    I like the baseball card analogy. Great article!

  • http://www.YouHaveNotChangedOneBit.com Erik Sebesta

    I’ll swap you a 1989 Topps box of unopened wax packs for an Xconomy article to be written later. Note, the Topps box cover features a photo card of Jose Canseco and the wax packs still have the chewing gum included. The chewing gum from the late 80′s may or may not increase your ability to hit home runs.

  • Tim D-T

    Now, how to expand the analogy to reflect on what value your collection is now bringing you (or not!) Like I told my brother-in-law about his collection of vintage Star Wars toys still in the original packages: It’s not an “investment” if you are NEVER going to sell it!